Lakewood (3-2-1) is coming off of a surprisingly successful season despite some coaching turmoil. Alex Diaz is now officially the head coach, and he thinks his Lancers can improve on their impressive second-place finish.
“I told the kids to just go out and compete to show everyone that last year was not a fluke,” Diaz said. “We’re here to compete and change this program.”
Diaz has started that change by putting together a more difficult preseason schedule. The Lancers have already played Warren, Narbonne, Bellflower and defending CIF-SS Division 3 champion University. However, their most important win may have been 4-0 over crosstown rival Mayfair to win the Milk Bottle.
“We’re going to be a team that can keep the ball as much as we can,” Diaz said. “We’ll be patient and really organized defensively. At times we can be direct too, so it’s going to be a mix of everything.”
Lakewood midfielders Estevan Arizmendi, Juan Pioquinto and Jonathon Guerrero have been key to keeping possession and dictating the tempo. The seniors Arizmendi and Pioquinto are among nine returning starters including senior captains Michael Jimenez and Mark Lira. Jimenez plays center back, and Lira is a center forward.
“This team feels they can win the league,” Diaz said. “But before we think about that we have to think about what is going to get us there.”